Area hospitals react to keeping federal funding that was in jeopardy

Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 4:54 PM EST
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Three north country hospitals will continue to get federal funding after they found out they will keep their critical access designations.

Gouverneur Hospital, Carthage Area Hospital and Lewis County Health System may be located in three different counties but all have one thing in common: they’re designated as critical access hospitals.

“Without it, one would question if we would be here today,” said Lewis County Health System CEO Jerry Cayer.

The designation allows facilities in rural areas to receive more help from the federal government.

In order to qualify, certain standards must be met, including how far a facility is from what the government calls a “primary road,” like in Lewis County’s case, State Route 26.

“For the Medicare patients that we serve, we receive cost plus 1 percent reimbursement. That really makes a difference in maintaining the financial viability of the hospital,” said Cayer.

In 2020, we reported that with losing the designation, the hospital in Lewis County stood to lose $5.3 million in funding, Carthage $9.7 million, and Gouverneur $3.3 million.

But now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services changed the guidelines allowing all three to keep their critical access status

“With staffing and with inflation, this allows us to continue to reinvest in the infrastructure of our hospitals to continue to provide care,” said Donna McGregor, president of St. Lawrence Health.

McGregor says the change could also mean millions of dollars in future funding for Massena Hospital, after its application was denied back in 2019.

Officials from Carthage Area Hospital said in a statement that they thank leadership in Washington for fighting for them, allowing rural facilities to keep this crucial funding

The ruling reversal is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2023.